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Farmers to hold meet day after PM Modi’s fresh appeal: 10 points

NEW DELHI, Dec 26, 2020, NDTV. Forty farm unions will hold a meeting today at 2 PM to chalk out their future course of action and take a decision on holding talks with the centre as the deadlock continues over the new agricultural laws, NDTV reported.

The agitation near Delhi borders, which began late November, has entered its 31st day. The fresh discussions between the farmers’ representatives come a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi – in his strongest attack on the opposition since the beginning of the protests – stressed that farmers’ lands won’t be taken away, adding that “some people are spreading lies”. The Prime Minister also released a financial aid of ₹ 18,000 crore under the PM-Kisan cash transfer scheme. Five rounds of talks between the protesters and the government have failed in the last few months.

Here is your ten-point cheat sheet on this big story:

PM Modi on Friday accused the opposition of “spreading lies and rumours about farmers’ troubles”. “Across the country, farmers have been supporting the new agricultural laws. Those with political motives…are firing the gun from the farmers’ shoulders,” PM Modi said. He also targeted West Bengal Mamata Banerjee for blocking a central benefit scheme.

The Prime Minister, while reassuring the farmers about the minimum support price (MSP) for their produce, said: “I ask even those opposing me today, that my government is ready to talk to them on farmer issues…I urge our farmers to not be misled by anyone.” Friday’s outreach by the ruling BJP to over 9 crore farmers was the biggest so far amid protests.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday urged farmers to “let the new laws be implemented for a year or so”, adding that the government will be ready to amend them if they are not found to be beneficial to farmers.

A group of BJP leaders in Punjab’s Phagwara had to slip out from the backdoor under police protection on Friday after farmers protesting the central government’s new agricultural laws picketed a hotel that they were holding an event in. A large number of farmers protesting near Delhi borders are from Punjab.

On Thursday, leaders representing the 40 farmers’ unions said the government “is not serious about our demands”. “The government should put repeal of the laws on the agenda for fresh dialogue,” Shiv Kumar Kakka, a senior farmer leader, was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The government on Sunday had asked the protesters to choose the date for next round of talks after five rounds of discussion earlier failed. Referring to the centre’s letter, Shiv Kumar Kakka said: “The new letter is nothing but propaganda against us… to give the impression that we are not interested in talks.”

Earlier this week, the farmers began a relay hunger strike to add pressure as they continue to demand the repeal of laws. A group of 11 fasts everyday for 24 hours.

Two countrywide protests – a nationwide shutdown and an all-India hunger strike – were called earlier as the numbers swelled around Delhi’s borders, leading to blockade of highways.

Many opposition leaders including ex-Congress chief Rahul Gandhi have lent their voice to the farmers’ agitation, which happens to be the biggest in the last few years. The 50-year-old leader met President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday over the issue. “PM Modi is making money for the crony capitalists. Whoever will try to stand against him will be called a terrorist – be it farmers, labourers and even Mohan Bhagwat,” the Congress leader said.

Chief Ministers of Punjab, Delhi, Kerala and West Bengal have also voiced concerns over the new laws.

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